On April 8, Margaret Atwood greeted a full house at an onstage event and book signing for the reissue of her 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale (Emblem Editions) at the Indigo Books & Music store in Toronto’s Eaton’s Centre. The crowds spilled out over two floors and into the mall; many in attendance held copies of the new tie-in edition of the book, which features key art from the television adaptation launching in Canada on April 30 (Bravo).
For more than 30 years, the dystopian novel has been a steady seller, says McClelland & Stewart publisher and Penguin Random House Canada vice-president Jared Bland, but 2017 year-to-date sales are approximately seven times what they were at this time last year. “The number of new readers being brought to the book in anticipation of the show is crazy,” he says. “We see sales spikes whenever there are new trailers released.”
PRHC worked closely on promotional plans with Indigo, where the title is currently featured as a staff pick. The publisher has also designed a line of T-shirts to be sold at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, with all proceeds going to Atwood’s charity of choice, the urban-forestry non-profit Leaf.
The tie-in edition, which includes a new introduction by the author, employs the same image used to publicize the series, featuring an aerial shot of a handmaid in her iconic red cloak. “We have an enormous wave of marketing we’re able to ride,” says Bland. “I think the edition will have a very long shelf life beyond the life of the series. It’s not a faded tie-in that will look dated once the movie is gone.”